Is it Finally Time to See the UK Gambling Review White Paper?

The players gambling in a casino.

Campaigners in the UK have long pushed for a review of the gambling legislation that’s in place. Although the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is still one of the best regulators around the world, many have felt that there’s still a lack of protection for players especially when it comes to the potential of problem gambling.

The White Paper, detailing proposed changes, has now been delayed four times. The most recent delay came about following the resignation of Boris Johnson as PM. We now have Liz Truss leading the country but will she make this White Paper a priority? While the likes of Iain Duncan Smith are pushing for changes to come in now, Truss has taken over the premiership with what can only be described as a very full inbox. With the cost of living crisis and war in Ukraine, we’re yet to see how high up the list of priorities gambling reform will come.

So, while we’re left waiting, do we know anything about what may be to come? Well, fortunately, thanks to statements and leaks, we have a good idea of some of the proposals. Let’s take a look.

Stakes to be limited at online casinos

One of a number of proposed changes expected to take place at a UK gambling website is centred on stakes. Right now, you can find slots that will allow you to wager £25 or more per spin. You can even find those that will allow £100 to bet. The proposal in relation to this is that stakes will be limited between £2 and £5. this change is widely expected as it would bring online casinos in line with the rules and restrictions that land-based fixed odds betting terminals face.

There is, however, still likely to be a workaround for players who want to increase their wager. If a customer agrees for enhanced checks to be carried out, they may then be allowed to wager between £10 and £25 per spin. What’s interesting is that any stake limits would only apply to slots: there seems to be no desire to include all online casino games. Given that some versions of live dealer blackjack allow wagers of £1,000 or more, it makes the limit on slots appear slightly pointless.

The introduction of affordability checks

Another proposed change with the aim of protecting players is affordability checks. The intention is that these checks would kick in if a player was to lose £125 in a single month or a total of £500 across a year. The checks are decried as being automatic and passive and the players wouldn’t necessarily be aware that they were being carried out. These types of checks are likely to focus on signs of financial distress such as checking for county court judgements.

The suggestion is that there would be further checks if losses reached higher levels. If a customer lost £1,000 in a day or £2,000 in a 90-day period, further checks with credit reference agencies would be carried out. Customers would only be aware of these checks thing places if information was required from them to complete an assessment. One other measure that has been mentioned is the possibility that the UKGC may look to impose deposit limits for all players at online casinos. Whether this would be a blanket limit that applied to everyone or one that was down to individual circumstances remains to be seen.

The impact on promotions

There are campaigners who have serious issues with the number of promotions that online casinos offer. These are generally a great way to attract new players as well as encourage loyalty. However, it seems increasingly likely that there will be limits placed on what can be offered. The information that has been leaked has suggested that the White Paper won’t go as far as suggesting that all free bets will be banned. What is likely to be proposed is the scrapping of VIP schemes and doing away with free bets that are targeted based on a player’s spend or losses.

There has also been talk of banning gambling sponsorship in the Premier League. Campaigners are keen to prevent such sponsorships from appearing on the front of football shirts where they receive maximum exposure. It appears right now that there won’t be an outright ban as the Premier League is looking towards a voluntary solution making that gambling sponsorship can be passed out of the game.

Land-based casinos

The changes are not 100% focused on online casinos and there are changes that will impact land-based operations too. One potential change is focused on smaller casinos that fall under the 1968 Gambling Act (reportedly, there are around 70 of these across the country). The aim is to allow these smaller operators to have the same gaming machine allowance that is enjoyed at larger venues.

There is also talk of all land-based casinos being able to offer sports betting within their venues. The exact details of this are far from clear as yet.

It has also been suggested that casinos that are in London’s Mayfair district will be able to offer games that have higher stakes. They may also be permitted to offer credit to international customers proving that certain checks take place.

The UKGC itself

Of course, for any of these proposed changes to work, the UKGC needs to have the right tools, and the right powers, to enforce them. It appears at the moment that the regulator will be given the power to set its own fees and this will, more than likely, lead to operators having to pay more. There has also been reference to the that it will be able to require bulk data from all online operators.

One measure that is receiving great support is the potential creation of a new ombudsman. This would be in place to resolve issues that players have with operators. Of course, until the White Paper is finally published, we won’t know exactly how any of this will work.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.